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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 07:15 GMT 08:15 UK
Quota heart-break for Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen said moving to England was the best thing he ever did
Kevin Pietersen has spoken of the heart-breaking decision to leave South Africa in pursuit of an international career with England.

Pietersen felt he was forced out of the country of his birth at the age of 20 because of the racial quota system.

This meant non-white players were fast-tracked into cricket teams and he was dropped by Natal.

"I was dropped because of the quota system brought into South African cricket," Pietersen said.

"It was to positively discriminate in favour of 'players of colour' and to fast-track the racial integration of cricket in the country.

"To me, every single person in this world needs to be treated exactly the same and that should have included me, as a promising 20-year-old cricketer.

"If you do well you should play on merit. That goes for any person of any colour.

"It was heartbreaking," he said in the Daily Mail.

And even though it was very hard for me to take in at the time, it turned out it was the best thing that could have happened

Kevin Pietersen

Pietersen was spotted by former South Africa all-rounder Clive Rice and he advised him to take a gamble of a lifetime and head to England, where his mother was born.

He first played for Nottinghamshire and then Hampshire and as soon as he was eligible for England he was in the side, making his debut at the end of 2004.

He has now played 18 Test matches and has a healthy average of 48.39.

The 26-year-old said: "I'd always been aware I had other options. England was my mum's birthplace.

"I had a British passport and I had often thought about playing cricket in England.

"And even though it was very hard for me to take in at the time, it turned out it was the best thing that could have happened.

"If it hadn't, I wouldn't have been standing at The Oval as part of an Ashes-winning England team.

"I wouldn't have been named one-day player of the year at the ICC awards dinner in 2005, or been standing on a Sydney stage in front of the best cricketers in the world."


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